Answered By: Gabe Gossett
Last Updated: Dec 19, 2017     Views: 11999

A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) code is a unique and permanent string of letters and numbers representing  an article or document that will take you to that article wherever it is located on the Web. DOI numbers provide a permanent link to an article and are required for many citation styles. 

Question: Should I use the entire web address or just the DOI in my reference list?

Answer: Use the DOI only.

For example, if you have the following URL you should reformat it to, doi:10.1177/0017896911419346

Reference list example

Bizjak, M. C. (2009). Understanding emotional health and psychological adjustment in students with or without a specific hearing deficiency. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 21, 213–224. doi:10.1007/s10882-009-9136-x

The URL information can be chopped off because it simply allows you to log into WWU subscriptions, but for references you have to write as though non-WWU people might be reading it too (even if they don’t).


Question: Is DOI a date in a citation?

DOI is not a date. It is a digital object identifier. It is a unique locator number for a particular source. Usually it is used with journals, but you will also find them for some books and even blogs. Not every journal article will have a DOI.


Question: How do I find a DOI for an article when it is not provided in the APA citation?

Many journals do not provide DOIs for articles. When no DOI is on an article then you do not need to include it in your citation. Not every journal uses DOIs because they have to pay to register the numbers.